Mother of Learning

by nobody103

Original HIATUS Adventure Fantasy Mystery Magic

Zorian is a teenage mage of humble birth and slightly above-average skill, attending his third year of education at Cyoria's magical academy. He is a driven and irritable young man, consumed by a desire to ensure his own future and free himself of the influence of his family, whom he resents for favoring his brothers over him. Consequently, he has no time for pointless distractions or paying attention to other people's problems.

As it happens, time is something he is about to get plenty of. On the eve of the Cyoria's annual summer festival, he is killed and brought back to the beginning of the month, just before he was about to take a train to Cyoria. Suddenly trapped in a time loop with no clear end or exit, Zorian will have to look both within and without to unravel the mystery before him. And he does have to unravel it, for the time loop hadn't been made for his sake and dangers lurk everywhere...

Repetition is the mother of learning, but Zorian will have to first make sure he survives to try again - in a world of magic, even a time traveler isn't safe from those who wish him ill.

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Next Chapter Target Date: December, 2019 (No Exact Date)

The story updates with a new chapter every 3-4 weeks. I aim for one chapter every 3 weeks, but real life sometimes interferes with that and I end up taking an extra week to finish things.

If anyone is interested, I have a story-related worldbuilding site that can be found here. I don't update it as often as I should, but there is a fair amount of content there already. It also contains a page with all the fanart, fan translations, audio books and the like - you can reach it directly by clicking this link.

I have a patreon account for those kind people that want to give me money. It also contains info for those who want to donate via paypal.

The story was originally posted on fictionpress, back in 2011. When I reached chapter 91, I started uploading the story to RoyalRoad, one chapter per day. The story will continue to be updated on fictionpress as well as here, and can be reached by clicking on this link if somebody is interested, though at this point there is nothing there that isn't also on RoyalRoad.

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The cover you see on the side has been made by a fellow RoyalRoad user Sydorow. Thank you for your time and art skills.

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nobody103

nobody103

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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
1. Good Morning Brother ago
2. Life’s Little Problems ago
3. The Bitter Truth ago
4. Stars Fell ago
5. Start Over ago
6. Concentrate and Try Again ago
7. Of Gaps And Pretending ago
8. Perspective ago
9. Cheaters ago
10. Overlooked Details ago
11. Limiters ago
12. Soul Web ago
13. Any Second Now ago
14. The Sister Effect ago
15. Busy Friday ago
16. We Need To Talk ago
17. Sympathy for the Spider ago
18. The Pact is Sealed ago
19. Tangled Webs ago
20. A Matter of Faith ago
21. Wheel of Fortune ago
22. Complications ago
23. Lighting the Fuse ago
24. Smoke and Mirrors ago
25. The Unexpected ago
26. Soulkill ago
27. Cast Adrift ago
28. Cauldron ago
29. The Hunters and the Hunted ago
30. A Game of Shops ago
31. Marked ago
32. Alternatives ago
33. Gateways ago
34. Unreasonable Things ago
35. Mistakes Have Been Made ago
36. A Battle of Minds ago
37. Slow Burn ago
38. Return to Cyoria ago
39. Suspicious Coincidences ago
40. Shifting Tracks ago
41. Myriad Clashing Motives ago
42. Sum of its Parts ago
43. Overwhelmed ago
44. A Show of Trust ago
45. Fine Structures ago
46. The Other Side ago
47. Politics ago
48. Well of Souls ago
49. Substitution ago
50. Containment ago
51. Out of Control ago
52. Things Fall Apart ago
53. Phantoms ago
54. The Gate Is Barred ago
55. Threshold ago
56. Obscure ago
57. Unwanted ago
58. Questions and Answers ago
59. One Step Forward ago
60. Into the Abyss ago
61. Anthills ago
62. Improperly Used ago
63. The March of Days ago
64. Distance ago
65. Dangerous Ground ago
66. Marred Perfection ago
67. Convergence ago
68. Green Hell ago
69. Ruin ago
70. Carried Away ago
71. Shadows of the Past ago
72. Crossroads ago
73. Plodding Ahead ago
74. The Return ago
75. Soul Stealer ago
76. Critical Blunder ago
77. Testing ago
78. Grinding Stone ago
79. Crime and Evading Punishment ago
80. Enemies ago
81. A Civil Conversation ago
82. Ancient Circles ago
83. Scorpion ago
84. Powerless ago
85. Critical Mass ago
86. A New World ago
87. Agents of the Crown ago
88. Mysterious Ways ago
89. Victory ago
90. Change of Plans ago
91. A Path Paid in Blood ago
92. The Scramble ago
93. Shelter in the Storm ago
94. Ghosts ago
95. Betrayer ago
96. Contract ago
97. Illusory ago
98. Beneath the Surface ago
99. Powderkeg ago
100. Sacrifice ago
101. The Switch ago
102. Giants ago
Reviews

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Zimzimbadabim
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From some of my brief discussions with the author, it seemed there were no plans at all to bring this story to the Royalroad platform. Many tried to persuade him with little success. But it seems that Royalroad is going to be graced with this story after all. I have followed this story since sometime back in 2013, and this might be my favourite high-fantasy fiction of all time. 

The characters are all unique and wonderfully human.

Plot twists strike like deadly ninjas.

The world is very well developed. I know of perhaps only one other online story with a similar level of worldbuilding detail, Brennus.

 

One thing I especially love is that the story has a well developed system of rules, and the author actually abides by the rules well enough that I have not spotted any area of cheating. I won't claim to have perfect analysis abilities, but there are exceedingly few stories I can say this about. Usually authors create very loose rules so that this does not become an issue, or they simply break the rules for the sake of plot. Not so in this story. Everything makes sense. This is some of the highest praise I can give to a fantasy story. So many stories that I enjoy suffer from the lack of immersion created by simply not making sense. This story makes sense. 

 

I recommend this. Not only that, I reccomend you support the author on Patreon if you are able. There are many authors on this site being supported through Patreon and other means whom I honestly believe are not putting in the necessary work to earn what they are earning. 

Domagoj Kurmaic, the author, is an exception to this trend. This work has been vastly underfunded for the level of quality being produced. 

https://www.patreon.com/nobody103 

 

All that said, there is no romance in this story. There are characters in romantic relationships, but those relationships are never a focus of the story. If you need romance in a story, this is not the one for you. 

What this story has is action, magic, friendship, family drama, political drama, necromancers, monsters, dragons, a magic school setting, very funny moments of comic relief, and perhaps the most dynamic main character I have ever read. There is a very real sense in this story of watching a boy grow into a man.

 

Enjoy the read.

ChillyPepper
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This review may contain spoilers. TL:RD at the bottom.

Spoiler: Spoiler

 

Now for my personal reasons for the scores. I find this webnovel amazing, the time loop is executed so well. The MC moves between tasks in a pace that refresh the plot instead of falling into the predicted looping as one might think.

The grammar is as far as I can tell is amazing. I can’t judge someone with grammar better than mine anyway!

There are no romantic interests so far, but I prefer my novels romance free so its a plus in my books!

It honestly more than deserves a full score, each chapter makes me crave more chapters, and the chapters are quite beefy as well. 

TL:DR: An amazingly written fantasy novel with lovable characters, a good magic system, and an amazing plot twist! Recommending this to everyone like a zealot.

Enjoy your read.

David Musk
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Well, I’ve been enjoying this story over the past couple months, and now—at Chapter at 101—I can finally write a review. Minor spoilers ahead. 
 
Mother of Learning starts with a concept that feels fresh to the fantasy genre: a world trapped in a time loop. The mystery aspect of this story is compelling, and every revelation feels like a genuine step toward real answers. This is a tough thing to accomplish when the mystery is so essential to the plot. Not every writer can pull it off (I’m looking at you Lost and Game of Thrones.) 
 
The main character (Zorian) is interesting too. Like most protagonists, he starts out flawed and grows along the way. But unlike many stories, this growth isn’t shown through his understanding of the book’s central theme, but rather through his interactions with the world and the people in it. By experiencing the same events in a loop, he comes to see the world differently. He sees his friends and family in new a light, and he emphasizes with people he barely noticed before. This is a bit different, but the traditional story frameworks (the Hero’s Journey and the three-act structure) are only meant to be guidelines. The author manages to pull off a great story without them.
 
Style
 
Overall, I would describe the style as simple and straight-forward. You’re not going to find a lot of lyrical prose or poetic language here, but that’s okay. The nature of the time-loop (and by extension, the plot) means that a lot of things need to be summarized in a concise way. Does this mean there’s a less showing and a more telling? Yes. But the book as a whole doesn’t suffer for that. The writing-style does what it sets out to do, so I won’t hold it to a different standard.
 
With that said, the book’s style is still its biggest weakness. The descriptions are minimal early on, so it was tricky to get a solid sense of the world and what a comparable time period would be. We’re immediately shown trains, which implies either a modern or semi-modern setting. We also get words like ‘cafeteria’ as opposed to mess hall, which implies a more modern setting as well. 
 
Later on (I want to say past the 10% mark) we’re told that firearms are a fairly new invention so we know we’re not dealing with an entirely modern period. We also get more world-building later on such as airships, newspapers, watches, snow globes, ice boxes, and bank checks. By the end, I definitely had a good feel for the setting.
 
If I could change something though, I would make the setting clearer in the first few chapters. For example, what sort of lighting do the characters use to see? That can go a long way toward establishing setting in any story. I always imagined some sort of light bulb (either electrical or mana powered) but this is never explicitly stated. The world could just as easily use candles or oil lamps, which would evoke a very different atmosphere. 
 
There were also a few info dumps that went on for 500+ words. These were the only parts of the book where I honestly felt the urge to skim, mostly because they dealt with ancient history or far-off cultures. I can see how this information became important. The problem is, most readers won’t remember all the details when they actually become relevant.
 
On a more positive side, I loved the parts where Zorian gets sarcastic in the narrative and the reader has to figure out what actually happened. In particular, I’m thinking of the part where a character trips and it’s described as "an accident. Or when Zorian gets into an argument that was described as “calm and civilized" in hindsight. Scenes like this were clever and they always made me chuckle. This humor gets also much stronger toward the second half of the book when he starts forming more long-term relationships with other characters.
 
Overall, I believe that most of the style issues will be resolved in a later draft. I’m confident about this because the descriptions were noticeably better in the second half. It’s just a matter of the author taking what he learned and re-applying it.
 
Grammar 
 
I won’t say much here. 99.9% of the book is flawless as far I can tell. Sure, there are a few mistakes. Usually, they involve the narrative switching from present tense and back to past. It’s subtle though—something a non-writer would barely notice. And as with the style, this is all stuff that can be fixed with editing. It doesn’t distract from the story.
 
Characters
 
So, the nature of the timeloop is both a strength and a weakness here when it comes to character development.
 
For one, the fact that time resets every thirty days means that any non-timelooping character loses all of his/her memories. Naturally, this means that no one one else gets a real character arc. As a result, we miss a lot of those epic moments where minor characters overcome their flaws. The kind of scenes we see and expect from authors like Brandon Sanderson or Will Wight.
 
On the other hand, the time-loop allows all sorts of ways for secondary characters to keep coming back in different ways. Sometimes, a character might feel like a background character in Chapter 7, only to become important in Chapter 70. Sometimes, a character will go on a date with Zorian because a particular instance of the time-loop resulted in just the right circumstances. Othertimes, Zorian will have a heart-to-heart conversation with someone just because he happened to ask the right questions or observe the right things. This aspect of the time loop feels satisfying because we’re seeing the current pieces being played with in new and interesting ways.
 
World Building
 
If you enjoy a detailed world, this is the book for you. Despite the lighter descriptions, everything in this world feels alive. Like everytime you pick up the book, you’re transported to this world. There are different continents, factions, cultures, histories, and technologies, and a detailed magic system. Everything you could hope for in a fantasy story.
 
Conclusion
 
Overall, I recommended this story to anyone interested in fantasy. I think it will be especially appealing to anyone who enjoys magic school settings or progression fantasy. As a fan of both sub-genres, it scratches all the right itches for me.
 
It terms of magic schools, this has it all. A library with a restricted section. Interesting teachers. A variety of subjects. And with the time loop, it’s incredibly satisfying to see the main character approach the same situations in different ways. It doesn’t take long for Zorian to pass his classmates. After that, he’s rivaling even the teachers.
 
In terms of progression fantasy, things aren’t as clean-cut in terms of advancement levels. Not in the way you might expect from other authors like Will Wight or Andrew Rowe, and definitely not like a litRPG. Even so, the magic system has clear-cut rules, and you can always get a sense of Zorian’s strength, knowledge, and skill relative to the other characters.
takertoe
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A time loop story that does not get old

Already been following this little gem for years at fictionpress and happy to see it finally over here as well

Story is about a guy getting caught up in a time loop and starting to unravel its mysteries and tries to escape it. Character development is well done and grammar is perfect to my non native eyes. All in all a fresh breeze of a story that deserves its place among the upper echelons of webnovels

Irrational
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While this may seem biased to have a 5 star rating so soon, this story was originally posted on another site and has an almost cult following.

The plot expands as the story grows, the author not falling into the same traps so many others have seen with wish fulfilment.

The characters grow along with the story and the magic system is used in a way befitting a fantasy story, vague at times but detailed to further the story. Not every story must explain in detail how their magic system works.

The plot varies as it follows the MC, sometimes fast, sometimes slow and other times small time skips to avoid boredom. The world is larger than what the reader may imagine, with everything having it's own place.

The premise is interesting, and it's used not ignored. There is an overreaching plot, no mini-arcs where the author makes up each section on the fly. There's no romance plot and not everything is explained immediately, eventually perhaps. But not immediately. There's setbacks, drama and plot-twists you didn't see coming until they happened. But looking back, you can see clues leading up to this.

With fantastic writing, an interesting story and a plot that doesn't get side-tracked away from the goal; This is one of the best stories I've read in a long time and I'm eagerly awaiting the finale.

Spoiler: Spoiler
AssaultPenguin
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This is one of my all time favorite stories. It's honestly one of the best things I've ever read, and the only real downside is the slower than average update schedule (new chaps ~1 a month). Of course, if you stick to the royal road site you won't even have that problem, cause this'll be updating daily until its caught up, which will take a solid three months or so.

I highly recommend this story to everybody. Even if you don't think you'll like it from what you hear. Not only does this story dodge every single pitfall that comes its way, it absolutely obliterates them.

Think the time looping premise destroys tension? It's quickly established that not only are there two entire disciplines of magic that time resets don't affect, there's also an unknown malevolent time traveler who knows both of them.

Afraid of the inability to develop characters? Well, MoL is one step ahead, sure time resets, but most of the supporting cast has extensive hidden depths that only become clear later on, mimicking the benefits of character development even with static characters.

Tired of OP protaginists who beat their foes effortlessly? MoL walks the perfect balance of power, with a protaginist who is effentually unchallenged in his area of expertise, but still far from flawless elsewhere. In fact, the foes he'll face are far beyond him, and he'll need to pull out all the stops if he wants any chance of success.

Even the plot twists, a notoriously easy area to screw up, are impeccable. Overall its a brilliant story that somehow balances both legitimately compelling character drama and truly epic scope within one novel, if not perfectly, as close as I can imagine to any human can achieve.

The only problem is that now this is here, no one will read any of my shitty writing. 0/5 stars.

mrezman
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One of the best on the internet.

I've been following this story for years on fictionpress, so I'm super happy it was finally ported over here. This story is one of the best I've ever encountered online. I'll try to keep this spoiler free.

1. Style

The style is simple, and has the typical western fantasy flare (seen in like Lord of the Rings or Eragon, something like that. That kind of writing style). The author definitely puts a lot of thought into the world and characters, and it shows through. The style is consistent throughout, and although it isn't anything particularly ground-breaking, it's solid and leaves a lot of room for amazing storytelling.

The only gripe I kind of have is that the author tends to do a lot of "tell" instead of "show," especially toward the later chapters. But it's forgiveable, because the lore is so deep and world so fleshed out and rich that it's hard to just represent just through organic "showing." However, this results in dense chapters full of intricate information and concepts basically just told to us in plaintext so that it's hard to get super invested in and makes it hard to binge all the chapters in one go. This isn't so much a problem in the earlier chapters, but later on the author kind of gives up a bit and just heaves mountain on top of mountain of info on top of us. 

2. Story

Amazing. What can I say? Just superb. Everything is thought out. Every little thing is important. The whole story is founded off of a super intriguing concept (Groundhog's day but in a fantasy world), but the author expands it to so much more than that. The lore is deep and interesting, with twists and turns throughout. The story is in no way predictable. However, it is engaging, super tense (especially earlier on, although toward the middle/later it drags a bit, but has picked up in the latest few chapters). You can tell that the author has planned things for a long time and is giving us a rich, engaging, bouncy ride. There are so many gripping exciting moments, complete with chapters and chapters of buildup that lead to an awesome climax. It's great.

3. Grammar Score

Not completely perfect, but almost flawless. In the beginning chapters, I couldn't find a single error. However, later on there are a few errors that pop up here and now, so I couldn't give it full stars. Still better than 99.9% of fictions here.

4. Character Score

A-ma-zing. So good... one of my favorite things about this novel is the character development of Zorian throughout. I love that it's a slow, gradual, almost imperceptible change that feels incredibly natural (as it should, through many loops). I'm a big fan of many of the characters and their intriguing backgrounds.

However, I'm strict, so I still have gripes (sorry). Toward the beginning there seemed to be a lot of effort to have characters be 3-dimensional, interesting, and fleshed out, but toward the later chapters, it's clear the author is getting lazy. I won't name names, but a few recent characters that have been present for a while feel kind of one-dimensional. They're important for the story, but it feels like nobody103 is kind of tired from writing such an expansive, rich story, so he kind of glosses over it, giving the characters some kind of schtick and calling it a day. But it leaves me a bit annoyed and unsatisfied... not to mention, I had been expecting a payoff for some of these characters after them having been a mystery for a large part of the story, but they turn out to be kind of generic. So I couldn't give full score. But still amazing.

Overall, one of the best I have encountered. Kind of hard to binge but it's amazing and worth it. I would suggest just a few chapters a day or else your mind will get tired (it's so dense lol...). But read it! It's so good!

Lone
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This story helped me grow as an author a lot, which I'm very thankful for.

It also made me lose two nights of sleep since I stayed up for 3 days straight to read it.

Just an incredibly good and engaging read.

Gilgilad7
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Groundhogs Day in a Magic Academy

The title is derived from the latin proverb "repetitio est mater studiorum" which means "Repetition is the Mother of Learning.

As you can guess, the MC is here to learn.

The time loop he finds himself in presents oppurtunities to master magics in a way normally unavailable.  I mean, who doesn't fantasize about being in a time loop and able to master skills you never have time to learn and correcting everything that might go wrong in your life?  And there is a lot going wrong here.  A surprise enemy invasion, classmates being slaughtered, his city being destroyed, a world ending creature being released from its prison.  It makes the perfect premise since it is a problem that will takes years to solve and time is something he suddenly has a lot of.  But not as much time as he thinks.

What really sets this story apart from others is the incredible scope and how the MC handles it.  The MC is great at breaking down the overwhelmingly massive problem of an enemy invasion into manageable bits that he can actually do something about.  He uses the time loop to figure out what went wrong and try again.  He is never overpowered compared to the forces arrayed against him but seeing his step by step solutions is incredibly satisfying.  There is a serious mystery going on, and the character taps into his Sherlock side as he finds clues and makes deductions and then rationally applies solutions to the problems.  The MC is no slouch at combat either and the way he shores up his own weaknesses with either training or by enlisting allies is well done.

I love his magical crafting and the clever inventions he creates to problem solve.  He is able to train with different Masters who he normally wouldn't have access to outside of the time loop and the way he approaches their knowledge is different for each one. The time loop makes the story appear kind of "game-like" since the MC exploits the Magic trainers and min-maxes his resources at his disposal each time cycle.  The goal of breaking out of the time loop keeps the character driven and pro-active.  

The series is so good it is hard to believe it is a free web series. The author has been writing this series for over 7 years and it is very close to being finished.  The author is at chapter 91 at the time of this review and plot threads are crashing together into a tsunami of climaxes.  It is amazing.

Allister Hale
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If this isn't trending soon I will be shocked.

No seriously.

Stop wasteing time reading this and other reviews and just start reading.

I've been following MoL since around the end of the first major Arc, what could be considered the first book. I rarely reread stories and this I will be using the fact that MoL has been added to RRL to read it from the start for like the fifth time or so.